Snow, gift exchanges, and family dinners. It is that time of year where families and friends around the world gather to exchange gifts, eat delicious food, share stories from the past year, and to discuss hopes for the upcoming new year. And while all of those activities are fun, it is important to consider the impact of our celebrations on the planet. According to this article, people in the US throw out an additional one million pounds of stuff out between Thanksgiving and New Years! So, what can we do to reduce that one million pounds of extra stuff thrown out? Read on to see my tips for an eco-friendly holiday season or click here to watch the video.
Environmentally-conscious wrapping swaps:
I am not going to lie; I absolutely LOVE beautifully wrapped gifts and may
or may not have had an obsession with wrapping paper in my younger, less-planet-saving days. Unfortunately, the majority of wrapping paper is non-recyclable and contains toxic inks. According to this article, British people will throw out over 100 million rolls of wrapping paper this year. In this article, the amount of wrapping paper thrown away in Canada was equated to the weight of 100,000 elephants! So what are some ways that you can reduce your wrapping waste?
- Reuse paper products
I am pretty confident that everyone has used old newspapers to wrap gifts before (probably the comics page because that was the page with the most color), but old newspapers are not the only papers that can be reused as wrapping paper. Old maps, old magazines, posters, junk mail, and phone books are all made from recyclable papers. If your gift item is small, you can even use empty toilet paper rolls (video demonstration here).
- Cloth wrapping
I was first introduced to the idea of cloth wrapping paper when living in Japan–called ‘furoshiki’ in Japanese. They have such lovely fabrics just for wrapping gifts in and there are loads of tutorials on how to wrap gifts with fabrics. Turns out, lots of Asian countries use beautiful fabrics for wrapping gifts. Pictured is the style from Thailand!
Not living in Asia? No worries, there are other ways to utilize cloth gift wrapping. If you are crafty, you can upcycle a shirt that has a hole in it (but it is otherwise A-okay) to create cloth gift bags in various shapes and sizes. If you are not crafty (or you don’t have any time left to make your own), you can order bags online instead (here for the US or here for the UK).
- Use biodegradable gift bags (and keep on reusing them!)
Are you terrible at wrapping and usually just resort to throwing it all into a bag? That’s okay too! Hopefully, you and yours use those bags year after year until they start to fall apart, but when they finally DO fall apart, replace them with these biodegradable versions (here for the US or here for the UK)!
Bonus tip: with these plain brown bags, you can have a crafting day with the kiddos in the family to decorate the bags and afterwards, each holiday season, the family will have the joy of seeing artwork from years past.
- Swap your toxic wrapping paper and ribbon for eco-friendly versions
Too much of a stickler for pretty packaging for the holidays? I totally understand. That’s why this year, I am using this amazing wrapping paper that has seeds embedded right in it! Such a cool idea; I am actually really excited for it! If that isn’t an option for you (sorry, seems like the UK doesn’t have seed paper yet), you can always used wrapping paper made from recycled products (as shown here). You can top off your package with all natural raffia–eliminating the plastic bow and plastic waste that comes with it (here for the US or here for the UK)!
- Change from plastic tape to biodegradable tape
And finally, all of these changes make a difference, but if you end up using plastic tape with toxic chemicals on it, you are still adding to the waste problem. So I encourage you to replace your (finished) roll of plastic tape with a biodegradable version.
What ways will you reduce your waste this holiday season? Share your ideas!
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To shop in the UK: